In Brief

APA's Council of Representatives voted unanimously in February to approve a revision to the set of standards sponsors must meet to receive APA organizational approval of their psychology continuing-education (CE) programs. The changes, proposed by APA's Continuing Education Committee--formerly the Continuing Professional Education Committee--seek to ease the sponsor-approval process by eliminating redundancy within the standards and clarifying and condensing other areas to ensure that CE programs offered to psychologists meet high standards.

In particular, Gerald C. Davison, PhD, a former committee member who helped revise the standards and criteria, says the most important changes center on clarifying CE curriculum content to emphasize that programs be based on a methodological, theoretical, research or practice knowledge base. In meeting this requirement, sponsors need to demonstrate that program content has a clear conceptual and scientific foundation, has obtained credibility, has peer-reviewed, published support or is related to ethical, legal, statutory or regulatory policies or guidelines. For more detailed explanations of the revised standards, go to APA's Continuing Education Office.

The revisions are also meant to remove unnecessary hurdles from the approval process, says former committee chair John W. Hall, PhD.

"We hope these changes make it easier for potential sponsors to get through the process," he says. "Our standards aren't any lower, but there are just fewer hoops to jump through."

For instance, the committee no longer requires sponsors to provide financial information on their programs or to meet special requirements for program co-sponsorship. It also eliminated criteria specific to home-study courses because, its members say, the approval criteria should be the same across all programs offered by APA-approved sponsors--regardless of delivery method. However, sponsors that offer home-study programs still will have questions on the application form that specifically address home-study programs.

Additional changes included condensing some of the sections. For example, one category in the 1996 document--called "facilities criteria"--no longer exists. Instead, the information in that section, which included requirements of complying with the American with Disabilities Act, now falls under the "program management" section. Also, the committee removed a separate section on "ethics" and grouped its content regarding ethical issues in CE programs under the various other sections in the document.

The revised standards took effect April 1.

--M. DITTMANN